Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive

Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive

by Samuel D. Kassow
     
 

In 1940, the historian Emanuel Ringelblum established a clandestine organization, code named Oyneg Shabes, in Nazi-occupied Warsaw to study and document all facets of Jewish life in wartime Poland and to compile an archive that would preserve this history for posterity. As the Final Solution unfolded, although decimated by murders and deportations, the group

Overview

In 1940, the historian Emanuel Ringelblum established a clandestine organization, code named Oyneg Shabes, in Nazi-occupied Warsaw to study and document all facets of Jewish life in wartime Poland and to compile an archive that would preserve this history for posterity. As the Final Solution unfolded, although decimated by murders and deportations, the group persevered in its work until the spring of 1943. Of its more than 60 members, only three survived. Ringelblum and his family perished in March 1944. But before he died, he managed to hide thousands of documents in milk cans and tin boxes. Searchers found two of these buried caches in 1946 and 1950.

Who Will Write Our History tells the gripping story of Ringelblum and his determination to use historical scholarship and the collection of documents to resist Nazi oppression.

Editorial Reviews

The New Republic
"This may well be the most important book about history that anyone will ever read." —The New Republic

Choice
"... Trinity College professor Kassow's work is well researched, written, and documented.... Recommended." —Choice

Reform Judaism
"... one of the most important books I’ve ever read... Kassow has created a stunning and brilliant social history of Polish Jews..." —Bonny V. Fetterman, Reform Judaism

— Bonny V. Fetterman

NUVO Weekly
"A stunning revelation of the enduring spirit of the decimated residents of the Warsaw Ghetto." —Rita Kohn, NUVO Weekly

— Rita Kohn

Slavic Review
"Together, Emanuel Ringelblum and Samuel Kassow help us remember why history matters." —Slavic Review, Winter 2009

Jewish Book World
"If there is any book that should be read this year (or any year) about the Holocaust it is Who Will Write Our History?" —Jewish Book World, Fall 2008

Libraries & Cultural Record Vol. 43
Kassow has made a major contribution to our understanding of the depth of dedication that librarians and archivists should share toward the preservation of their materials.—Matthew Z. Heintzelman, Libraries & Cultural Record Vol. 43, 2008

— Matthew Z. Heintzelman

New Jersey Jewish News
"If there is one book that should be read about the Holocaust, it is Who Will Write Our History?" —Jack Fischel, New Jersey Jewish News, November 13, 2008

— Jack Fischel

Zachor
"In this book, Kassow adheres to Ringelblum's inclusive philosophy, painting an exceedingly comprehensive picture of Jewish life in Warsaw before and during the war." —Zachor, October 2008

Palm Beach Jewish Journal
"This is a book that comes to us at enormous human cost. It deserves to be read and studied by us all." —Palm Beach Jewish Journal, July 14, 2010

Hadassah Magazine
"The query that gives the book its title is more than answered by the painful text of the book itself. The martyred historians achieved their purpose. It is they who wrote the history that Kassow has transformed into a compelling and significant narrative, a tribute to the courage and determination of the doomed archivists." —Hadassah Magazine, May 2010

Forward.com
"Kassow provides a comprehensive overview and interpretation of the value of Ringelblum's determination to keep alive in memory the ordeal of his fellow Jews." —Forward.com, 4/28/11

Libraries & Cultural Record
"Kassow has made a major contribution to our understanding of the depth of dedication that librarians and archivists should share toward the preservation of their materials." —Matthew Z. Heintzelman, Libraries & Cultural Record, 2008

— Matthew Z. Heintzelman

Booksandideas.net
"[T]he critical success of Kassow's book is perhaps best explained by the fact that it is far more than a straightforward presentation of the archives. It allows us to relive the daily lives of men and women who were brought together by one man's mad undertaking." —booksandideas.net
Reform Judaism - Bonny V. Fetterman
"... one of the most important books I’ve ever read... Kassow has created a stunning and brilliant social history of Polish Jews..." —Bonny V. Fetterman, Reform Judaism

NUVO Weekly - Rita Kohn
"A stunning revelation of the enduring spirit of the decimated residents of the Warsaw Ghetto." —Rita Kohn, NUVO Weekly

Zachary Baker
"Samuel Kassow's book on Ringelblum and Oyneg Shabes is a chef d'oeuvre. I can only marvel at the author's ability to master a bewildering array of primary and secondary sources and write a temperate but impassioned historical study of his own. It is one of the most important studies on the Holocaust to have appeared in years." —Zachary Baker, Reinhard Family Curator of Judaica and Hebraica Collections, Stanford University Libraries

David G. Roskies
"Two major historians meet in this book: one named Ringelblum, the other named Kassow. Drawing on his passion for the past, his revolutionary ethos, his organizational genius, not to speak of his self-discipline, unflagging energy and courage, Emanuel Ringelblum recorded, compiled, and preserved the last chapter of Polish Jewry. Drawing on his vast erudition and moral imagination, Samuel Kassow has rescued this incomparable story. Thanks to him, the Oyneg Shabes Archive is revealed to be the single greatest memory site of east European Jewry." —David G. Roskies, author of Against the Apocalypse

Libraries & Cultural Record Vol. 43 - Matthew Z. Heintzelman
"Kassow has made a major contribution to our understanding of the depth of dedication that librarians and archivists should share toward the preservation of their materials." —Matthew Z. Heintzelman, Libraries & Cultural Record Vol. 43, 2008

New Jersey Jewish News - Jack Fischel
"If there is one book that should be read about the Holocaust, it is Who Will Write Our History?" —Jack Fischel, New Jersey Jewish News, November 13, 2008

booksandideas.net

"[T]he critical success of Kassow's book is perhaps best explained by the fact that it is far more than a straightforward presentation of the archives. It allows us to relive the daily lives of men and women who were brought together by one man's mad undertaking." —booksandideas.net

From the Publisher
"If there is any book that should be read this year (or any year) about the Holocaust it is Who Will Write Our History?" —Jewish Book World, Fall 2008

"Samuel Kassow's book on Ringelblum and Oyneg Shabes is a chef d'oeuvre. I can only marvel at the author's ability to master a bewildering array of primary and secondary sources and write a temperate but impassioned historical study of his own. It is one of the most important studies on the Holocaust to have appeared in years." —Zachary Baker, Reinhard Family Curator of Judaica and Hebraica Collections, Stanford University Libraries

"... one of the most important books I’ve ever read... Kassow has created a stunning and brilliant social history of Polish Jews..." —Bonny V. Fetterman, Reform Judaism

"Kassow has made a major contribution to our understanding of the depth of dedication that librarians and archivists should share toward the preservation of their materials." —Matthew Z. Heintzelman, Libraries & Cultural Record Vol. 43, 2008

"Kassow provides a comprehensive overview and interpretation of the value of Ringelblum's determination to keep alive in memory the ordeal of his fellow Jews." —Forward.com, 4/28/11

"Together, Emanuel Ringelblum and Samuel Kassow help us remember why history matters." —Slavic Review, Winter 2009

Reading Archive
Studies about the Holocaust and memory have generated a considerable scholarship as well on the nature of recordkeeping and archives. Who Will Write Our History may be one of the most important of such studies. . . . the volume provides important insights into the nature of why people, especially in times of great duress, create and maintain historical documents.
—Richard J. Cox, University of Pittsburg
Jewish Foundation for the Righteous
...[B]rings further insight into your continued study of the Holocaust.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253349088
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
06/28/2007
Series:
Helen and Martin Schwartz Lectures in Jewish Studies Series
Edition description:
Annotated
Pages:
568
Sales rank:
782,462
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.45(d)

Meet the Author

Samuel D. Kassow is the Charles Northam Professor of History at Trinity College. He is author of Students, Professors, and the State in Tsarist Russia, 1884–1917 and editor (with Edith W. Clowes) of Between Tsar and People: The Search for a Public Identity in Tsarist Russia. He lives in Hartford, Connecticut.

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